It’s been almost six years since Mary Keulana-Riotutar has gone home to Hawaii to see her mom and sister, and she’s quite homesick as a result. But thanks to the generosity of her co-workers at a Laredo, Texas restaurant, that will soon change.
Mary originally moved to Laredo in 2012 to attend school on a volleyball scholarship. She now supports herself and her family by working at Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen, where she always mentions to her co-workers everything she missed about Hawaii, especially her family.
“It’s only me, my mom, and my sister,” Mary explains. “I’m really, really close to my mother. So whenever I hear that she’s having a bad day, it makes me feel like I can’t do anything. I want to be there for her, even if it’s for a short time.”
Knowing how much Mary misses her family, her co-workers at Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen chipped in to buy her a plane ticket home to see them. They also decided to record the moment she found out.
Caution a very emotional video (for me):I don’t usually post this kind of stuff but for this to happen to ME like wow. Their are no words to express my gratitude. So I’ll start by saying if you all know me I’m not from Laredo, I’m from Hawaii & well I haven’t been home in about 5 or 6 years. I miss my mom, my family, the food, the aloha, EVERYTHING & well i talk about it like ALL THE TIME. So! Last week people that I haven’t even known for more than one year, my coworkers and friends decided to give me the biggest blessing that I have EVER received…a flight home!!! & as I’m typing this I can’t even find the words to describe how I feel or how to thank each & every person who pitched in for ME! I know I’m not the easiest person to get along with, but for those who are closest to me know that I’m ALWAYS gonna be there to help you WHENEVER you need help, support, or just a friend to talk to. So for this to happen to ME I can’t even believe it. Thank you my cheddars family for sending me home to my beautiful momma😭💚 P.S. I look scary when i cry🌚 It’s okay though it’s happy tears. #Onlyvisiting#Lookmydoublechin#Hawaiihomecoming2018.
Posted by Mary Keaulana-Riotutar on Wednesday, March 28, 2018
The video was posted on Facebook and soon went viral, already being viewed over 10,000 times. As you can see in the video, Mary is brought to tears by the gesture and then immediately embraced by her co-workers in a group hug.
“I just I want to hug her and hold her as long as I can,” Mary said of seeing her mom. “I have a good family here, and like friends-family, but I want to hold my mom.”
Mary says she was most shocked at what her co-workers did for her since she’s known most of them for less than a year. But it’s something they were happy to do.
“It couldn’t have been better timing,” says Mary’s co-worker Cassandra Molina, who helped to organize the surprise. “The reaction and the look on her face when we did what we did for her was priceless. It was amazing.”
Mary says she is hoping to use the plane ticket to visit her mom and sister in Hawaii later this year in either May or June.